I’ve Got a Mansion, Just Over the Grill-Top

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV

I don’t believe it’s true, but someone once told me that a house perpetually and perfectly well-kept is a sign of an “uninteresting” life. Again, not true. But for people who believe it, I might be one of the most fascinating people they’ll ever meet.

Sometimes, to get inspired to get my house in order, I look up cleaning and organizing tips on Pinterest. Next thing I know, I’m thinking about D-I-Y-ing something amazing. It has nothing whatsoever to do with cleaning my house, but still. It’s not like I can’t use one more idea for building a grill gazebo—that will never, ever happen.

At some point I do realize I have to get real and tidy up. I was gathering shoes from the family room one time and chuckle-whined to my daughter, “Your dad has three pairs of shoes in here.” Then, “Mercy! Two pairs of your brother’s shoes over there. Ten man-shoes in one room!”

My daughter, who is always at home with the clever comebacks, answered, “In my father’s house are many man-shoes.”

Even at its tidiest, my house? Never uninteresting.

It’s even more interesting that, spiritually-speaking, we live in an ever-messy world. Not just a bit of disorder now and then. Not simply a little dusty here or there. Fallen. A place where immorality and depravity are a lot closer to the norm than right living and love for God. In all its messiness, our world doesn’t merely avoid loving God. There are those who are passionate in their attempts to remove His influence. It’s not exactly “mansion, sweet mansion” here.

Jesus really said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3, KJV). It’s a passage that thrills our souls. Not the man-shoes—or even the mansions. It thrills because in the midst of dealing with the mess of this world, we’re reminded of the treasure of living in the presence of God.

I do love the thought of a place “prepared.” A clutterless place far removed from everything messy. Better yet, there’s a reception. “I will receive you to myself.” What will make heaven the sweetest home? We’ll be “received”—by Jesus.

In an untidy world, dirty little distractions can threaten to sidetrack those of us who seek to faithfully follow Christ toward that reception. It’s vital that we not allow any of the world’s mess to block out the glorious eternal.

A few verses later, Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17, HCSB).

That’s how we focus and follow:  His remaining presence! The same Lord who promises to receive us indwells us by His Holy Spirit. Oh what a gift His presence is. For the hope of our glorious future. For life here and now.

For the organized—and also for those of us who are, let’s say, a little too fascinating.

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I’ve Got a Mansion, Just Over the Grill-Top – encouragement & humor from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What are you looking forward to the most when you get to heaven?

Easters Past

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

Recently, I came across some old photos from long ago Easters. It was a bit like opening a time capsule. The black and white images captured me, my younger brother, and my parents as we looked on Easter Sunday. Circa 1960’s. Mom dressed me in frilly dresses, lacy socks, and patent leather shoes. In one photo, I even sport an Easter bonnet. In two, we posed in front of Dad’s Ford Fairlane. In the photos, my parents were about the age my grown children are now.

Memories  I hadn’t thought about in many years rushed to the surface. For instance, in a few of the pics, young Kathy held an elaborate Easter basket. Mom purchased that basket from a charity that operated in our home town. Adults, who had lost their sight, made elaborate baskets decorated with tulle, ribbon, and lace. Mom had taken me there and let me pick out the one I liked best. I loved that fancy basket!

Then I thought about the egg hunts at my maternal grandmother’s house. Aunts, uncles, and cousins from out-of-town gathered for the holiday. The highlight for the kids was always the Easter afternoon hunt in my grandmother’s backyard. Grandma didn’t hide eggs, she hid candy. And that was better! What kid really cares about boiled eggs anyway?

I even found a few Easter Sunday photos taken at our church. When I was young, our church always held a sunrise service on Easter with a pancake breakfast afterward. We sat in rows of cold, metal folding chairs in the small parking lot facing east. As the sun crept above the horizon we sang the old Easter hymns I still love. Songs with words like:

“Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph ‘or His foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain and He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose… He arose… hallelujah, Christ arose!”

And…

“He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!”

Then, about the time I felt thoroughly frozen, we all moved to the warmth of the fellowship hall to feast on sausage and pancakes with plenty of butter and sweet syrup.

Times have really changed. I don’t see many Easter bonnets anymore. I don’t hear much about sunrise services. Some of our Easter traditions have changed, and we sing different songs. But the glorious truths we celebrate on Easter have not changed.

Jesus’ sacrifice is still the only one we need for our sins. Jesus still lives today. He is still Lord over all. He still reigns now and for all eternity.

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Remembering Easters Past – thoughts from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.   1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV

Let us celebrate these eternal truths this Easter.

Kathy HowardAbout the author: Find out more about how to treat others with grace in Kathy Howard’s Bible study Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing.Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle Paul that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Join the conversation: Do you have favorite memories of Easters past? Please share!

Messy Christmas

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

Christmas often comes with high expectations. We think everything has to be just so. Perfect decorations. Perfect family. Perfect gifts. Perfect meal.

Our culture perpetuates this fantasy. In the dozens of made-for-TV Christmas movies, the girl always finds her soul mate, the estranged father is always reunited with his family, the boy always gets the puppy, and the table is always laden with beautiful food (which must have been made by Christmas elves, because you don’t see anyone slaving away for hours in the kitchen).

But here’s the problem with high expectations: many of us will be disappointed. Life will never be perfect – not even at Christmas. Maybe especially at Christmas. The arrival of December 25th does not magically heal broken relationships or ease the pain of loss or pay the bills.

In fact, Christmas tends to intensify any grief, anxiety, and sadness we feel because we compare our imperfect, messy lives to that unrealistic perfect image. When our lives don’t measure up, we lose hope. Without hope, Christmas becomes a time we have to get through instead of a joyful celebration.

Here’s the good news: Real hope for Christmas is not in a golden turkey or a new Kindle or a happy family gathered around a gorgeous tree. Real hope is in a babe in a manger. God come to earth to be with us. Immanuel.

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us… In Him was life and that life was the light of men… We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth… To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become the children of God.  John 1:4, 12, 14 NIV

This life is messy and will be messy until Jesus comes back for His children. In the meantime, we will encounter trials, pain, death, sickness, divorce, heartache – oh, just name it! However, in the middle of all our mess we can find strength, joy, and peace in the Savior. The birth of that one tiny baby long ago provides hope – for this life and eternity.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV

Does your life feel messy this Christmas? Lay it all at the manger. Find your Christmas joy and peace in the Child of Christmas. In your Savior.

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Does your life feel messy this Christmas? @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: This post is adapted from Kathy Howard’s Bible study. Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing. Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle Paul that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Join the conversation: Are you struggling with a messy life this Christmas season? Share a thought about the hope, joy, and peace you can find in Christ!